Slowing the Pace of Climate Change

Lin to lead $3.8 million DOE project on carbon capture

Haiqing Lin in his office.

Haiqing Lin, Associate Professor

Imagine if you could capture large amounts of carbon dioxide before it left the smokestacks of coal-fired power plants, cement plants, steel plants and other industrial facilities.

Such an advance could reduce carbon emissions worldwide, helping to slow the pace of global warming.

With these goals in mind, Haiqing Lin, an associate professor in UB’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is leading a multi-institution $3.8 million project to develop materials called membranes that can separate carbon dioxide (CO2) from other gases — a technology that factories and power plants could easily install to cut down the amount of carbon they release.

Eventually, the team’s products will be tested at the National Carbon Capture Center, a DOE-sponsored research facility in Alabama.

“Carbon capture technology has the potential to make a huge impact right away when it comes to carbon emissions,” said Lin. “Solar and wind are great, but it will take time for the world to increase capacity in these areas, and in the meantime, we are still burning fossil fuels. Cement plants and steel furnaces also produce a lot of CO2, and carbon capture technologies can help reduce these emissions as well.”

The Research Project

The goal of this project is to develop transformative solubility-selective mixed matrix membranes (MMMs) containing metal organic polyhedras (MOPs) and rubbery polar polymers, achieving high CO2 permeance, high CO2/N2 selectivity and high CO2/O2 selectivity at temperatures up to 60°C. These membranes will be fabricated into industrial modules, which will be tested using real flue gas at the National Carbon Capture Center. If successfully developed, such membranes would outperform current leading membranes by 50 – 100%, which may enable membrane processes to meet the DOE target of < $30/ton CO2 captured from coal-derived flue gas.  

The Research Team

Timothy Cook, assistant professor of chemistry in the UB College of Arts and Sciences, is serving as the project’s co-principal investigator. Lin and Cook have worked on a number of interdisciplinary projects together, beginning with a study funded by a UB Innovative Micro-Programs Accelerating Collaboration in Themes (IMPACT) award.

Collaborators include scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Membrane Technology and Research Inc., Trimeric Corporation and the National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC).

Student contributors include UB chemical and biological engineering students Leiqing Hu, Gengyi Zhang, Liang Huang and Hien Nguyen, as well as chemistry student, Cressa Fulong.

The team developing the carbon capture membrane includes UB faculty members Haiqing Lin (far left, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering) and Timothy Cook (third from left, Department of Chemistry), along with their students and UB postdoctoral researchers. From left to right, with the exception of Lin and Cook: Leiqing Hu, PhD; Cressa Fulong; Gengyi Zhang; Liang Huang, PhD; and Hien Nguyen. Credit: Douglas Levere / University at Buffalo